I was at a Christmas luncheon at work the other day talking about my students and how some of them might do better with a home schooling option. I related how I had home taught my two kids for part of their secondary school career. Another teacher explained how she was home schooling her children and that she was using a curriculum that was prepared by a Christian organization.
My heart immediately sank. This was a well-educated young woman who was a teacher in the public school system and she had chosen the route of religious indoctrination for her kids, and she was proud of it. It obviously has never occurred to her that she is deluding her young children into believing fallacies and, in the process, is doing them an educational disservice. Even if she is teaching them a curriculum that is scientifically appropriate, which is unlikely, she still is presenting her children with false notions that the bible is somehow a book of morality and something to base one's life on.
I wanted to confront her with the truth, but that never works anyway and it would only cause hurt feelings. Religious people don't want to hear the truth; they believe they already know it. They have been brainwashed into believing that faith is a great virtue and they feel sorry for those like me who have lost our faith.
But the veil of indoctrination has been removed from my view. I now know what my subconscious suspected since I was a kid: The god of the bible is a fake. I can't say for absolutely certain that a god does not exist, and I'm willing to listen to proof of God's existence if anyone has it to offer. I can be convinced, unlike Christians or Muslims who are absolutely certain of the existence of their gods and cannot be convinced otherwise regardless of the evidence.
But my question to them is, Why do you believe? What is the basis for that belief? What makes you so absolutely sure? If they are honest in their answers, they must admit that they believe because that's what they were taught. They grew up believing and never stopped, because faith is reinforced by a powerful religious organization, their church.
No one comes to faith naturally. Faith goes against nature. Faith benefits no one except the church and its coffers. Faith means believing without evidence. Where else in our lives do we choose to believe something wholeheartedly without so much as a smidgeon of evidence to support that belief? It's only because we are fearful of what happens to us when we die that we succumb to the fairy tales taught to us in church. We would rather live our lives in complete denial of reality than to even consider the notion that our gods do not exist.
But think about it; if you believe, you do so because your parents or your pastor taught you to. But what if they're wrong. They are only people and they've certainly been wrong before. Maybe they believe only because they, too, were taught to. It's a never-ending cycle.
Believers might ask what if I'm wrong. Isn't it better to be safe than sorry? But which religion would you have me believe in? Why is one any better than another? What if I choose the wrong one? Isn't that just as bad as not believing at all? Many religions believe that it's their way or the highway - to hell that is. People who believe have chosen their particular belief and to them, it's true. But everybody can't be right, can they? If there is a god and if he is a personal god who cares what you believe and how you worship, then there is only one correct way to do it, his way. The trouble is, nobody knows what his way is. The bible is no help because it can be interpreted in many different ways, thus the many Christian denominations. And maybe Christianity is totally wrong. What if Muslims are more nearly correct? And then you have to worry about which branch of that religion has it right, Shiite, Sunni, Kurd? If there is one god and one true religion, then God is not telling anyone what it is in a clear fashion.
Although I might be willing to listen to evidence supporting the existence of a creator god, I know for certain that the god of the bible is not real. How could he be? He is supposed to be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. And yet he allows suffering in the world, not just human suffering, but indescribable suffering of animals in the wild. Who could create living beings and then allow them to suffer so much?
Christians have a pat answer to these questions, but they are all cop-outs. They are all just excuses for their god because they can't come up with a reasonable explanation.
Anyone who takes an honest look at his or her religious belief, anyone who deeply contemplates what the bible has to say and the claims that are made, must come to the conclusion that their religion is bogus and the bible is baloney. Nothing in it makes sense in today's world. There may be a few common sense prescriptions for living a good life, but it is also littered with atrocities. Just take a look at what is apparently the worst form of sin – sex. Sex outside of wedlock is condemned throughout the bible. Homosexual sex is condemned. Lust is condemned. Incest seems to be ok, but only if performed for procreation. Sex for the sake of pleasure is always frowned upon. And that view is reflected in American society, where bloody violence in video games is tolerated, but nudity on TV is completely taboo.
Society can't be free as long as most of its members belong to a religion. Religion does nothing but hamstring society's citizens. And, of course, those who subscribe to a religion will say that's a good thing. That's because they want to make sure the rest of society's citizens live by what they believe is moral. Without religion, there would be no one to draw the line for you. You would be free to draw a line wherever you feel comfortable, as long as your line does not infringe on someone else's rights.
Consider a society where parents stop indoctrinating their children into religion. Eventually, the society would become more open and free. There would be no one to tell you that you can't do something because they don't believe it's right. Science would be free to blossom unencumbered by dogmatic anachronisms. It would be an enlightened society that puts its faith in human potential, not ancient superstition. It's a society I continue to long for.